What a Girl Will Do for Love, Part 6

By Molly McMann

“I haven’t been honest with you,” Betsy said, her voice quivering “I’m not . . . I’m not really a nudist.”

With those words finally uttered, the rest of Betsy’s tale poured out — how the whole misunderstanding had all started with little things she said during sex, but that Kate had taken her seriously and made a career sacrifice in order to bring Betsy to Huron — the only province where she could live as a full-time nudist. Betsy had been continuously naked ever since, but only because she was afraid Kate would break up with her if Betsy told her the truth.

When she ran out of words, Betsy whispered, “I hope you can forgive me for lying to you.”

“Don’t be silly. Of course I forgive you,” Michelle said, “and if she deserves you, Kate will too — but you need to tell her.”

The two naked girls were gently swinging in Michelle’s hammock in her studio space in the Art Building.

“I know I should,” Betsy said. “It’s just that Kate can be . . . “

“Prickly? Quick to anger? That’s how you’ve described her and I have to say, Betsy, she seems so negative.  I hope you won’t assume I’m saying this because I wish you were with me instead — though I do — but are you sure you two even belong together?”

“Yes,” Betsy insisted. “You’ve just gotten a bad impression of her because I confide in you about the bad things. She has lots of positive qualities too.”

“Doe she? Okay, tell me about those.”

“Well . . . I love that she’s so strong and confident, and I feel safe and protected with her. She can be really funny when she’s in the mood —  she has a great laugh. We’re wonderful together physically, and most of the time she treats me like a princess — like I’m the most beautiful girl on the planet.”

“She should — because you ARE the most beautiful girl on the planet.”

“I am NOT.”

“I think you are,” Michelle whispered.  “And so does Kate, so you’re out-voted. But I suppose I’ll get to witness all of her positive qualities first-hand when I come over for dinner this Saturday.”

“Yes, but please don’t say anything about–”

“About how you’re supposedly not really a nudist even though you go everywhere naked and don’t own a stitch of clothing? Don’t worry — your big secret is safe with me.”

“Um, not just that. I mean, well, she knows you and I are friends, of course, but . . . “

“Oh, you mean don’t mention our little friendship kisses.” Here Michelle gave Betsy several kisses on the cheek, migrating down her jawline and into her neck until Betsy giggled.

“Yes, don’t mention that — and please don’t do that in front of her.”

“Does she know how we met?”

“Well . . . she knows I collided with you while rollerblading when I was delivering campus mail in the Art Building, but—”

“Not that our faces ended up in each other’s pussies?”

“That was an accident, but no I didn’t describe that part.”

“Does she know about the second time our faces were in each other’s pussies?”

“That was an accident too. Sort of.”

“I like our accidents. Maybe we should have another.” Michelle started rocking the hammock.

“Don’t do that!” Betsy squealed.

“Okay, but please tell me what Kate DOES know about me.”

“She knows that you’re my really, REALLY good friend — my BEST friend — and she knows you want to be a registered nudist too someday, and she knows we’re in a class together. Oops, and speaking of classes, I need to get to my next one. How do we get out of this thing without falling again?”

The naked girls managed to extricate themselves from the hammock without mishap this time, and walked together to the main exit of the Art Building. Michelle hugged her goodbye and gave her wet “friendship kisses” on both cheeks. As they embraced, their erect nipples brushed together, and Betsy could not have said whether Michelle made that happen or if she did so herself. This is wrong, Betsy reminded herself yet again. I’m in a committed relationship. I  shouldn’t’ let myself have these feelings.

“Michelle!” Betsy called out as they began to go down different hallways.

“What?”

“I care about you too. Very much.”

Betsy pushed out the main door into a crisp early Autumn day and felt goosebumps forming on her bare skin. She had gotten (almost) used to the morning chill as she walked to her first class, but most  days it warmed up by afternoon. Not today. If anything, the temperature had dropped and Betsy shivered as she hurried to her next class.

There actually were some benefits to the colder weather. For one, it cooled down the burning eroticism that she’d found so difficult to control a few weeks earlier. Nowadays, Betsy nearly always made it through the day without having to find a place to masturbate. But the most important benefit was that sooner or later it would finally be cold enough (in Kate’s opinion) to warrant the “protective clothing” vaguely alluded to in Huron’s nudist rights statute. To the extent that Betsy still had any clear plan left at all, it was just to get a coat. With pockets — she would have pockets again!

The next morning, Betsy was encouraged when she looked out the window to see frost on the grass. She watched with envy as Kate got dressed in a sweater and tweed jacket, hoping Kate would at least say something about the cold, but she didn’t. Betsy was determined not to be the first to bring the subject up so they kissed goodbye and Kate left for work.

Wearing only her red sneakers and matching ball cap, Betsy left the house and walked towards campus. She had learned Dean’s morning habits and timed her own departure to pass his apartment as he came out. She slowed as she approached until she saw him coming out of his door wearing long pants and a zippered sweatshirt. She could tell he was looking for her too and they met as he came down the little path from his building to the main sidewalk.

“You amaze me,” he said. “It’s a frosty morning and yet here you are naked as always.”

“I’m not naked,” Betsy teased. “I’m wearing a hat and shoes.”

“I stand corrected,” he said as they began walking together.

“So Dean,” she said, having practiced what she would say. “Kate and I are having a little dinner party this Saturday. Would you like to come?”

“Um, sure, okay,” Dean said tentatively. “So . . . does this mean I’m finally going to meet the famous Kate?”

“Of course,” Betsy said, trying her best to be casual. “In fact, she suggested I invite you.”

“She knows I exist?”

“Of course she knows you exist. I’ve told her about you — well, some things about you — and she saw you herself on that news clip when we beat Melody.”

“Interesting,” Dean said. “So who else is going be there?”

“Oh I don’t know for sure,” Betsy fibbed. “Probably just a few of Kate’s co-workers, and one or two friends of mine.”

“Anybody I might know?”

“No, but. I think I’ve told you about Michelle, my art student friend?”

Dean slowed to a stop and Betsy did with him. “Wait,” he said suspiciously. “Is this a set-up?”

Betsy shrugged. “What if it is?”

“You want to set me up with . . . someone who isn’t you? What about our sparks?”

“I probably shouldn’t have admitted I had those,” Betsy said.

“But you do?”

They were standing near a park bench so Betsy gestured for them to sit. The wooden slats were very cold against her bare skin and the crisp breeze gave her goosebumps, but she felt relaxed and determined to do the right thing.

“You’ll like Michelle,” she said, “and she’s a nudist too! Not registered yet, but she’s planning to be and goes naked wherever she legally can, which I assume will include my house.”

“Good for her,” Dean said, “but I hope you don’t think I’m only attracted to you because you’re a nudist — though that’s a plus to be sure — but you didn’t answer my question. About sparks.”

“I’ve answered it before.”

“Is the answer still the same?”

“I’m committed to Kate,” Betsy heard herself say. “I admit I feel . . . sparks for you, but I have sparks for Michelle too, and it’s wrong of me to flirt with either one of you. I’m committed to Kate and that’s the relationship I need to focus on.

Dean sighed. “Is she cute?”

“Kate? Well, she’s–”

“I meant Michelle.”

“Oh, absolutely. She’s adorable!”

“The second most adorable girl on campus?”

Betsy felt herself blushing and she imagined herself giving him a different answer, and they would kiss right here on this park bench. A gust of cold wind made her shiver, and the carillon bells rang out, reminding them of the time.

“You’re going to really like Michelle,” Betsy said, standing up. “She’s very, very special.”

On Saturday, Betsy was aflutter with preparations for the dinner party. She cleaned the house thoroughly and went to the grocery store with her list of ingredients for dinner. It was another chilly day, but she found she could tolerate it. People gawked at her as they always had — but now with additional curiosity because of the cold. Betsy ignored the stares and kept her mind on her task, picking out everything she needed.

At six o’clock, Betsy was freshly showered and busy in the kitchen when the doorbell rang. Kate was still absorbed in her laptop at the kitchen table with a vodka tonic so Betsy scampered to the door and welcomed Kate’s boss, Alice Strunk, and her husband. Kate finally closed her laptop and joined their guests in the living room as Betsy excused herself to go back to the kitchen.

The doorbell rang again and this time Kate answered it as Betsy hurried in to greet the newcomers. It was another co-worker of Kate’s — Jason, and his wife, Emma. Although Betsy had been to several of Peabody and Strunk’s social gatherings, Jason was new to the firm — having only recently moved to Huron himself — and Betsy knew Kate had intentionally chosen him so he and his wife would be seeing her naked for the first time. They were just taking off their coats when Betsy came running in from the kitchen, her breasts bouncing and a wooden spoon in her hand. After an introduction during which neither Jason nor Emma could manage more than fleeting eye contact, Betsy dashed back to the kitchen to bring them glasses of wine.

When Dean arrived, Betsy did her best to be breezily casual as she introduced him first to the guests and then to Kate.

“Your’e a good catch,” Kate said, shaking his hand firmly.

“Pardon?”

“I saw you on the news catching Betsy after that little race of yours.”

“Oh, right. Well, she did the hard part — beating Melody. That was an amazing win.”

“But I could see that Betsy was quite sweaty when she leaped into your arms,” Kate said. “She must have been rather slippery to hold onto.”

“I . . . I suppose . . she probably was,” Dean stammered.

Betsy felt a wave of panic. Was this whole evening an elaborate plan to confront Betsy about her improper flirtations?

“As I’m sure you know from personal experience,” Kate went on,” “Betsy is so dedicated to doing whatever she sets out to do. She’s just fearless, isn’t she?  She could have been hurt so I’m glad you were there to keep her safe.”

“What race are we talking about?” Emma asked, as Betsy’s heart resumed beating. Dean seized the opportunity and launched into a lengthy description of the campus mail service and how Betsy had to put up with Melody, their overbearing and relentlessly competitive co-worker, culminating in the big race on the final day of summer session.

Betsy had to get back to the kitchen before the story was over, but she heard Dean exclaim, “and all I had to do was catch her!” followed by laughter. She exhaled in relief when she heard Kate’s distinctive guffaw rise above the rest. The doorbell rang one again and Betsy knew it had to be Michelle. She hurried back to the door and Michelle was on the porch wearing a wrap-around sweater tied at the waist.

As Michelle stepped inside, the other guests in the living room stood up and looked over expectantly, but before leading her over to them Betsy said — loud enough for all to hear — “may I take your wrap?” Michelle opened her sweater, showing herself to be nude also. The sweater slid off her shoulders and Betsy hung it on a hook by the door as Michelle kicked off her sandals.

The distance from the front door to the living room was perhaps six or seven paces, but for all in the room time seemed to slow down as they watched the two naked, barefoot girls approach. They were of similar build, but with different coloring. Betsy was a natural blonde, her skin golden brown from weeks of continuous nudity. Michelle was slightly taller and skinnier, her ribs showing and her belly button an outie. She was Irish, but not the redheaded kind. Some few strands of bright red were in there somewhere, but mostly her hair was a rich auburn brown. She’d had less freedom in the sun, but also did not tan as easily. Her shoulders and chest were slightly tanned and splattered with freckles. Neither girl had a wisp of pubic hair.

Michelle shook hands with each person in turn, and each time she did so her right breast bobbled up and down — a pattern that each person in the group picked up on by the second or third introduction. And so with each of the remaining handshakes, everyone anticipated the bobble and made sure to observe it.

She was by nature more outgoing and talkative than Betsy, but tended to become a jittery chatterbox when nervous. And so each handshake took three or four enthusiastic pumps as Michelle effusively complimented outfits, shoes, hairstyles, nail color and any number of details about the guests. Naturally, they tried to compliment her appearance in return while trying not to use the word “naked.” The consensus was that she looked “lovely.”

When she got to Dean, Michelle held his hand in both of hers as she said, “oooh, you are just as hot as Betsy said you were.”

Last in line was Kate, who declared, “a handshake isn’t enough for my Betsy’s best school friend,” and grabbed Michelle into a hug. Surprised, but not at all put off, Michelle returned the hug, wrapping her naked body around Kate and kissing her on the cheek. If any ice needed to be broken, that did it, and from that moment everyone relaxed. Betsy felt relieved that Kate had finally met both Dean and Michelle and that the world had not ended. She knew she had handled things badly — allowing herself to become much too flirtatious with both of them. Starting tonight, she vowed, things would be different.

During dinner, Betsy was at the opposite end of the table from Dean and Michelle, who were apparently finding plenty to talk and laugh about, though Betsy could not hear much of their conversation. Her end of the table was dominated by Kate, Alice and Jason talking about work. Betsy did her best to be attentive, but kept trying to eavesdrop on the other conversation. Michelle was excitedly telling Dean how she had barely missed out on a free trip to Italy — a story Betsy had already heard. Michelle was first-runner up in an international painting competition, which was a big accomplishment even though she missed out on the trip. As she told the story, Michelle would excitedly bounce up and down in her chair — and her breasts bounced along with her. Dean and Betsy were on the same side of the table with two people separating them so she could not see his face or even hear what he was saying in reply. Dean had always played it pretty cool around Betsy, maintaining eye contact most of the time — more than she wanted him to do, actually. She wondered if he was having a better time looking at Michelle.

“Which is what makes Betsy so amazing,” she heard Kate say. Startled, Betsy tried to force her brain to recall whatever had just been talked about, but she was coming up blank. Everyone at the table was looking at her — except Michelle and Dean, who were absorbed in each other.

“I must concur,” Alice said. “Betsy, I keep asking Kate if you’ve resorted to clothing yet due to the changing weather, but she says you have continued to carry on without a stitch. Don’t you get cold?”

Grateful to have this clarification, Betsy was prepared to respond. “Yes, actually, I do get cold, Alice — especially in the mornings. But I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to my nudity.”

“But what will you do when winter comes?”

“Um . . . the law does permit nudists to wear protective clothing, but–”

“Is that what other nudists do?”

“Well, I guess I’m kind of in a unique situation. All the other registered nudists seem to live down south, so I’m the only one up north where we have winter, and I . . . I’m not sure what to do.” Fearing she’d said the wrong thing, Betsy hastily added, “I just want to stay naked as long as I can.”

“Isn’t she something?” Kate exclaimed, putting her arm around Betsy’s bare shoulder and pulling her close. “I’m probably going to have to force her to wear a coat pretty soon, but I know she doesn’t want to. Do you, sweetie?”

“No, I don’t!” Betsy insisted, trying to sound determined, “but . . . I know my judgment isn’t very good on this subject so I’m just going to let you decide that for me.”

As everyone at her end of the table emitted a collective “awww,” Betsy glanced to the side to see Michelle looking back at her, one eyebrow raised.

The rest of the dinner proceeded uneventfully and Betsy was in the kitchen making decaf and scooping dessert onto plates when Michelle came in. “Need any help, Miss ultra-dedicated nudist?” she asked.

“I couldn’t very well tell her in front of everyone,” Betsy whispered.

“Of course not,” Michelle replied. “I was just kidding around with you. Can I at least help carry those plates?”

“Yes, please. So, um, you and Dean seem to be getting along.”

 

“Ooooh, yeah!” Michelle said, bouncing on the balls of her feet and sending her boobs into a wobble. “He is SO hot. You don’t mind if I . . . pursue that a teeny bit, do you?”

 

“Of course not,” Betsy said, trying to sound convincing. “That’s why Kate– why we invited you two at the same time.”

Alice, Jason and their spouses left shortly after dessert, but when Dean and Michelle moved to follow, Kate held them back. “Please stay a little longer,” she said. “I barely got a chance to get to know you two — and I have a special something to share.”

Dean and Michelle took their seats again while Betsy’s heart fluttered nervously and Kate retrieved a slender bottle from her liquor cabinet. “You both walked over, right? This is pretty strong stuff so I didn’t want to serve it to the others because they were driving. Babe, get some of those small glasses.”

“That looks classy,” Dean said as Betsy hurried off to the kitchen. “I’m not used to classy alcohol.”

“It’s ‘Tsarskaya,’ from St. Petersburg,” Kate said. “A client gave it to me and I’ve been waiting for the right moment to open it.” She poured a small amount into each of the four glasses and then held hers up in toast. “Nostrovia!” she said, and threw back the shot.

“Nostrovia!” Dean repeated and took his own.

Michelle looked at Betsy and the two of them took theirs at the same time. “Nostrovia!”

“That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” Michelle said.

“Good,” Kate said, “because you can’t stop at one.” She refilled the glasses again and this time all four of them shouted “Nostrovia!” together and threw back their shots simultaneously.

“So tell me how you all met,” Kate said.

“Well, I just met Michelle here tonight,” Dean said. “Does that count?”

“I meant how did you two meet my sweet, adorable Betsy?” Kate said, pulling Betsy onto her lap on the couch. Betsy wanted to relax and enjoy the moment, but feared someone would say the wrong thing. But if that happened, she knew it would be all her fault. Kate was being so nice, just wanting to get to know Betsy’s friends — not knowing Betsy had betrayed her trust not just with one of them but both! She didn’t deserve Kate. Betsy was lying to her every single day about her nudity, and on top of that she’d been cheating on her. Maybe not physically, but emotionally.

Betsy was so busy chastising herself and fearing having her shameful secrets revealed that she was the only one not laughing as Dean told another funny story about their mail delivery work — Betsy’s pratfall into the mud on her first day on the job — and Michelle gave a PG-rated, but still-humorous version of their original meeting. Kate showed no sign of being suspicious. She just poured another round and told her own story of how she had spotted Betsy at the gym “and as soon as I laid eyes on her, I knew I had to have her.” As she spoke, Kate’s hand was gliding up and down Betsy’s side, from just below her breast to halfway down her outer thigh and back up again.

“Of course, this wasn’t in Huron so she was still wearing clothing,” Kate went on, moving her hand to Betsy’s inner thigh, caressing up and down, almost absently as she talked. She pushed Betsy’s legs farther apart and Betsy submitted, as she always did. “And so I had no idea yet that she was a nudist,” Kate went on, as her fingers glided down almost to Betsy’s knee and then back up all the way until the side of her hand touched Betsy’s pussy. Dean was steadfastly maintaining eye contact with Kate, but Michelle was watching the action, her nipples puckered into points.

“It was only later when we were making love for the first time that Betsy told me how much she loved being naked, and that was the moment I fell in love with her.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet!” Michelle exclaimed, though it sounded a bit forced to Betsy.

Kate’s hand came to a stop against Betsy’s pussy, her fingers resting  innocuously against Betsy’s inner thigh while the heel of her hand at the wrist pressed firmly between her open labia directly on her clit.

Betsy held her breath, wondering if Kate intended to make her come right there in front of her friends. The idea of that happening terrified her, but also touched off a wave of eroticism that rushed through her entire body and made her shiver. She shifted her pelvis involuntarily, rubbing herself minutely against Kate’s hand. No one else (she hoped) would have noticed, but she was certain Kate did. She had not meant it as a signal inviting more but she half-feared and half-hoped Kate would take it that way.

Kate’s hand began to move, sliding wetly upwards along Betsy’s pussy until the fingernail of her pinky cupped Betsy’s clit — and released it as Kate lifted her hand away to reach for the vodka bottle.

“One more round?” she asked.

“I may need to sleep on your couch if I drink much more of this,” Michelle said. “I don’t have to drive, but I may not be able to walk either.”

“We’ll make this the last one,” Kate said, and then everyone raised their glasses again and shouted triumphantly together, “Nostrovia!!”

“We should probably go while we can still feel our legs,” Dean suggested.

Everyone started to get up, but Kate said, “oh, I meant to take a picture of you all.” She held up her phone. “Michelle, do I have permission to take a picture of you while you’re naked?”

“Heck yeah,” Michelle declared, standing up uncertainly and leaning off-balance into Dean, who was still seated. Her butt cheek smooshed against his face as he instinctively put his arm around her body to keep her from falling.

“Hold that pose,” Kate said, snapping a few photos. “Okay, Betsy, stand up with Michelle. I absolutely must have a photo of the two nudists of Avery.”

“One of them still unofficial,” Michelle pointed out.

Betsy and Michelle stood side-by-side as Kate gave directions as she took photos. “Put your arms around each other. . . that’s good . . . now how about a kiss?” Betsy froze, but Michelle grabbed her by the chin and turned her head, and their lips came together.

Though alcohol had been flowing all evening, Betsy had been so fixated on making sure the dinner went well that she’d only had one glass of wine before the vodka came out. She was feeling a buzz, but was not drunk. Kate drank more heavily than Betsy, and liked to claim it had little effect on her, but Betsy knew better. Kate was smashed.

“Betsy, don’t be so stiff,” Kate ordered, her voice slurred. “Show us some hot lesbian kissing!”

Worried about defending herself in the morning, Betsy tried not to seem overly willing, but Michelle seized the opportunity. Her tongue was making an inventory of Betsy’s teeth and her hand was squeezing Betsy’s breast. Betsy shivered, wanting it to go on, but terrified that it might.

“Beautiful,” Kate declared. “I might need to get the garden hose and spray you two down. “Dean, you better get in between them.”

Betsy reluctantly pushed Michelle away until their lips parted, making room for Dean in the middle.

“Okay ladies, give him a kiss on the cheek.” Betsy obeyed, hoping Kate would soon stop. She had often imagined kissing Dean, but her fantasies had never included Kate as an observer. Yet here she was with her lips on his cheek and her nose drinking in his scent. His arm was around her waist, his strong hand resting on her bare hip. She had her hand on his back and wished he was still shirtless as he had been in the summer. Realizing that neither Kate nor the camera would see, Betsy slipped her hand under his shirt and slid her fingertips up his muscular back. She kept her other hand at her side, wanting to be sure Kate would not later decide she had been too eager.

Michelle had no such reason to moderate her behavior and so both of her hands went up Dean’s shirt — one in front and one in back. The one in back discovered Betsy’s hand and gripped it as the one in front made a show of groping Dean’s pecs. Kate laughed and egged her on. In her enthusiasm and unsteady on her feet, Michelle began to fall sideways onto the love seat and Dean fell with her. Betsy remained standing, now alone, as Dean and Michelle sprawled on the love seat entwined together.

After drawing out the moment some while, Michelle extricated herself and declared, “Kate needs to be in some pictures too!” She snatched Kate’s phone from her hands in a manner Betsy herself would not have dared. Yet Kate only laughed and jumped to her feet to embrace Betsy for the camera.

“Show us some lesbian love!” Michelle declared, snapping pictures. Kate complied, wrapping Betsy into a kiss and putting her hand between Betsy’s legs as she so often did when they were alone. This was not just a pose for the camera. Kate’s fingers meant business, vigorously rubbing Betsy’s clit. Betsy surrendered herself to Kate’s will and in that moment having an orgasm in front of Dean and Michelle felt like it might be the most perfect thing she could possibly do.

But then Kate’s hand was gone and everyone was laughing. Michelle gave the phone back to Kate, who flipped through the images, showing them to Betsy. And then everyone was hugging goodbye and the front door was open.

“Don’t forget this,” Kate called after them when Dean and Michelle were on the porch. She was holding Michelle’s wrap-around sweater.

“Oh crap, I still need this, don’t I?” Michelle pouted. “Someday I will be as brave as you, Betsy Andrews, Famous Avery Nudist.” Dean gallantly held out the sweater, and Michelle slipped her arms into it but made no effort to tie it closed. They staggered together, arm in arm, down the steps from the porch and out into the night.

The next morning, Kate and Betsy each dealt with their hangovers their own way. Betsy slept late, took aspirin and and drank strong coffee. Kate rose early and went for a long bike ride. She had uploaded her photos from the previous night to the shared cloud storage space the girls shared, so Betsy spent much of the morning flipping through the images.

For a long while she stared at the photos of herself and Michelle kissing, imagining a parallel universe in which they were a couple. In this universe, Betsy was amazed that Kate had encouraged it, and hoped she would not see anything negative in it in the sober light of dawn. Then there were the photos of Dean with a naked girl on each arm. She remembered what it felt like kissing his cheek, and secretly sliding her hand up the back of his shirt. The next few photos showed Michelle falling to one side and pulling Dean with her and away from Betsy. She had remained standing, left alone as Dean and Michelle sprawled, limbs entwined, on the love seat.

The last images were of her and Kate together, and this seemed right. Kate was grinning drunkenly — looking more relaxed than Betsy had ever seen her. They did make a good-looking couple in an opposites sort of way. Kate was tall, dark-haired and clothed while Betsy was petite, blonde and so very naked. So naked, so always naked. Betsy had been mentally fighting it all this time, struggling to escape from a situation she had put herself into. She began to imagine that perhaps her inappropriate flirtations with both Dean and Michelle had been part of that struggle. Maybe it was time to give up and accept her life as a nudist?  To let go of Dean and Michelle. They were still her friends, of course. She wanted to keep them in her life in that way, but she knew she had to stop herself from indulging in romantic fantasies with them. It was unfair to them — especially Michelle — to encourage that.

Betsy wiped away a tear, and closed her computer feeling that something had been resolved. She still had to resolve her nudity predicament, of course, but she did feel more certain of her relationship with Kate. That’s what mattered, and Betsy needed to control her feelings and stay focused on that. As for her nudity predicament, maybe the changing seasons would help her with that. She would, at minimum, get to wear a coat pretty soon. And perhaps when it was really cold she could tell Kate it was too much — that she had really wanted to be a full-time nudist but that Kingsley winters were just too much. She could say that after much soul-searching she had decided to withdraw her registration and go back to being a home nudist.

The advantage of that strategy, Betsy realized, was that she would not have to admit that she had been lying all this time. She would just be changing her mind after having given full-time nudity a dedicated attempt for several months — until the brutal reality of winter forced her to change her plans. Kate probably still wouldn’t like it, but surely she would have to respect Betsy’s decision under those circumstances. It would be a test of Kate’s love for Betsy. If Kate actually broke up with her in that situation, well then maybe they didn’t belong together after all.

Betsy took strength from having made that decision. She had been going naked for a couple of months already, and she could do it for another month or two — despite the cold — in order to reach her goal. She felt at peace with whatever might happen after that.

And so on Monday morning, Betsy was again stepping outside on a frosty morning wearing nothing but tennis shoes and a ball cap. She was a little late so she was hurrying in order to be passing Dean’s apartment when he usually came out. She was still a block away when she saw him come out of his door. She started to trot to catch up with him, but then stopped short when she saw someone else come out the door behind him. It was Michelle. Betsy stepped behind a tree, not wanting them to see her if they looked back, but they didn’t. They just walked away from her, together.

Already? Dean and Michelle were sleeping together already? It had only been two days since they’d met at Kate and Betsy’s party. It had been an intentional pairing, of course, and Betsy supposed she should be glad it had worked out so well. But this fast?

Stop it, Betsy told herself. So what if it happened fast. This was right, Betsy was with Kate, after all — and had escaped the potentially serious consequences of her own foolishness — and now her best friends Dean and Michelle were together. That was good. The four of them got along great. They could go on double dates together.

Best of all, Betsy finally had a real plan to get herself out of this insane nudism thing without having to admit she’d never really wanted to do it in the first place.

Later that day when she saw Michelle in class, Betsy tried to be nonchalant as she asked, “so what did you think of Dean? Did you two hit it off?”

“We did!” Michelle exclaimed, bouncing up and down in her seat. “We spent most of yesterday together and, well, last night too.”

“Did you?” Betsy exclaimed, trying her best to sound both surprised and happy.

Michelle yawned. “We spent most of the night on the roof of the Science Building waiting for that stupid lunar eclipse everyone’s been talking about. It was kind of cool, I guess, but not really worth staying up til 4 a.m. to see.”

“I’m sure you found something ELSE to do up there with Dean,” Betsy said teasingly.

“I might have except there were, like, 20 other people up there with us.”

“Oh. So you two didn’t . . .”

“Sleep together? No . We went back to his place afterwards and passed out on his couch for a couple hours before his freaking alarm went off.”

“Ohhh!” Betsy exhaled, relieved but trying not to seem that way.

“But I plan on getting into those tight pants of his REAL soon.”

The next morning marked the beginning of October and as if on cue the temperature dropped sharply and it stayed frosty cold all week, but Betsy was surprised that it really wasn’t that bad. She usually only had to walk 15 or 20 minutes at a time to get from one warm building to the next — though twice a week her first class was on the opposite side of campus and was more than a 30 minute walk. If she allowed herself enough time, Betsy could cut through some campus buildings along the way. That worked pretty well if it was a classroom building, but when she tried to cut through a boys’ dorm, it really slowed her down because so many guys wanted to flirt with her.

Even when she walked the whole way outside, Betsy found she could endure the cold weather pretty well, though of course it was only October and would get much worse before long. That’s what Betsy was counting on — subzero temperatures and maybe a nice blizzard. That ought to be enough to at least get a long coat. After that, she would tell Kate she simply had to go back to wearing clothing. She would do that by Solstice, Betsy vowed to herself, so she would not have to be naked when she visited her family. Going naked around her sister Hannah or Aunt Mindy wouldn’t be so bad, but not around the boys. Their blended family had come together when Betsy (the youngest) was 10 and the boys (the oldest) were 14, so they were like brothers to her. She did NOT want them seeing her naked — not in person anyway. She knew they’d seen her on the Internet. Though they did not live in the Kingsley TV broadcasting region, all they had to do was search for “Avery nudist” to find both amateur video and local TV reports.

Starting with the charity art auction when they first moved to Huron, Betsy had been on the news multiple times. The video of her winning the rollerblading contest had become the most watched footage in Channel 5 history, and all three local TV stations had experienced a ratings bump whenever they could come up with an excuse to put her on the air.

Publicists for Kate’s employer, Peabody & Strunk, were also aware of Betsy’s star power. After the attention she brought to the Art Auction, the company’s PR department made sure Kate and Betsy were invited to every public event P&S sponsored. They also made sure to mention to the press that Betsy would be attending. Twice since the school year started, Betsy had “dressed up” in her white heels and pearl necklace, her hair pinned up to show off the dangly matching earrings, and dutifully attended some gala fundraiser or another where everyone else was in tuxedos and gowns. All three Kingsley TV stations would be out front as a string of expensive cars pulled up for valet parking. When it was their turn, Kate would walk around to open her door and Betsy would step out amid flashing lights like the celebrity she had become.

At some point in the evening, thankfully after she’d consumed a few glasses of wine, Betsy would be put in front of the cameras again to answer whatever silly questions the reporters could think to ask an excuse to put her on the air. Now that it was October, the questions on everyone’s lips were “aren’t’ you cold?” and “are you going to stay naked all winter?”

Betsy was prepared with a strategic answer. “Of course I’m cold,” she said, “but I’m trying to stay naked as long as possible. Of course, the law allows nudists to wear protective clothing, and living this far north, I suppose I’ll eventually have to wear a coat or something.” Here she made a fetching pouty look that she’d practiced in the mirror. “But I just don’t want to think about that yet!”

Although the other two stations generally left her alone in between these events, Channel 5 would take any excuse to “check in on the Avery Nudist,” and at least once a week Betsy would spot a Channel 5 van cruising around campus. She avoided them when she could, but usually she had to say a few words about how very happy she was to be naked.

In addition to the news organization sites, Betsy knew there were several websites focused entirely on photos and videos of her. She tried not to look at them, but sometimes could not resist. She was astonished at how many photos and videos there were — most of which she had no idea were being taken. In an odd way she was touched by the attention because the sites were universally laudatory — as if she were a movie star people felt lucky to have seen in person.

One morning late in October, Betsy looked out the window to see that it had snowed. Four or five inches had collected on the ground and more was coming down. She turned on the TV where the Channel 5 weatherman was predicting a “wintry mix” all day.” After making coffee for Kate, Betsy announced that she was going out to shovel the sidewalk. She was trying to draw attention to the fast-approaching need for “protective winter clothing,” but Kate paid little attention and seemed preoccupied with reading something on her phone.

Wearing only shoes, Betsy went out on the porch and began shoveling snow off the porch and then the little brick path leading out to the picket fence. Ironically, this was a task Betsy had once looked forward to doing. She’d always dreamed of having a little house like this and she would imagine doing all the little chores associated with home ownership — including shoveling snow. She just hadn’t expected to be doing it naked.

After clearing the little path inside the fence, Betsy opened the gate to shovel the sidewalk out front. She wanted to go inside shivering, but it wasn’t actually very cold. The snow was coming down in big wet flakes that collected in her hair as she worked. She was about a third of the way done when she noticed the Channel 5 van. Crap. It was too late to evade them by going back inside, and she couldn’t just leave the sidewalk half finished so she ignored them and continued with her task. The cameraman quickly positioned himself on the neighbor’s still-unshoveled sidewalk so he could film her as she approached.

“Don’t mind us, Betsy,” the reporter called to her as she fiddled with her microphone. “Just pretend we’re not here for a bit.”

It was not easy to pretend the burly cameraman was not right there in front of her. Betsy knew he was getting a good shot of her boobs jiggling with her movement, but there was no way to shovel any differently. Now she had only ten feet or so left to go and the reporter had positioned herself next to the cameraman and began speaking into her microphone. “Okay, Betsy, we’re going live in a few seconds. We just want to ask you a question or two about how you’re doing with this weather, but keep shoveling at first, okay?”

Betsy, nodded, hoping Kate hadn’t turned off the TV. She no longer fretted over how many people in the Kingsley Metro Area would see her naked. Betsy had an audience of one, and that’s what mattered. Next to the van, a producer counted down the seconds with his fingers and pointed to the reporter.

“This is Maddie McGuire live from Avery where our Channel 5 Action Cam came to see how the Avery Nudist was handling the season’s first snowfall, and we found her shoveling snow!” Betsy presumed the camera was now on her, but she kept shoveling. “Sorry to interrupt your work, Betsy.”

Putting on her game face, Betsy looked up at the camera with a big smile. “No problem, Maddie. I’m almost done here.” She scooped up a couple more piles of snow and then straightened up, leaning on her shovel as more snow fell all around her. She had conflicting desires — wanting to build her case for eventual clothing, but also aching to just make Kate happy.

“Betsy, I’m sure our viewers are all wondering how you manage to go completely naked in weather like this. How do you do it?”

Betsy looked through the camera lens into Kate’s eyes. “I love being naked in the snow,” she said for Kate, and then tried to remember what she’d meant to say. “Of course, um, today it’s only barely cold enough to snow and there’s no wind, so it’s not bad yet,” Betsy said. She realized she did not feel cold in the least; quite the opposite. “I guess all this shoveling really warmed me up because I’m really hot!”

Indeed, although the snow was coming down hard as she spoke, the fat flakes collected in her hair but melted wetly on her skin. She didn’t feel uncomfortable at all and the thought of Kate watching her naked on TV made her aroused.

“Are you going to stay naked all winter?”

“I’m gonna try! Bye now.” She waved and sauntered back to the porch, showing the camera her shiny-wet, perfectly formed bottom, still sun-browned despite the season. Despite her outward confidence, Betsy was conflicted. She’d meant to stay on message — emphasizing again that by mid-winter she’d probably be wearing a coat — but all she could think of was Kate watching her. She burst in the house, hoping Kate had not missed it, and indeed Kate was in front of the TV using the remote with a delighted look on her face.

“That was SO sexy,” Kate said, still pushing buttons. “I missed the first few seconds, but recorded the rest.” Playing the recording on a loop, Kate embraced her and immediately put a hand between her legs.

“I’m really hot!,” Betsy heard herself say on TV, only now catching the unintended double meaning. She would have been embarrassed had Kate not been sucking her nipple and rubbing her clitoris. She was quickly on the verge of an orgasm but caught sight of the clock on the TV and remembered why she couldn’t be late to class. “Wait,” she panted, pushing herself away. “I have a test . . . in ten minutes.”

Stumbling backwards, Betsy grabbed her backpack and hurried to the door, as she again heard herself saying, “I’m really hot!”

Betsy ran all the way to class, arriving just in time as the professor was handing out the tests. Trickles of sweat ran down her body as she gradually caught her breath and tried to concentrate on 16th Century Provincial Poetry. The class was in one of the older buildings with steam heat and the room temperature was always at one extreme or the other. On this day it was too hot and students around her were pulling off their sweaters. Wearing nothing at all, Betsy should have been the most comfortable, but after Kate’s unfinished lovemaking and her sprint from home, she was unable to cool down. The wooden seat was slippery under her bottom, and she knew the cause was not entirely perspiration.

When the class was over, Betsy hurried outdoors to cool off. In a little brick plaza she spotted a park bench covered with four inches of wet snow. Betsy sat down on it, grateful for the shock of cold against her pussy. She leaned back, draping her arms on the snowy back of the bench and turning her face into the sky as the still-falling snow melted on her face. She still had her eyes closed when she heard the unmistakable click of a camera. Looking up, she saw a girl with a very professional looking camera with a long lens. “Just ignore me, Betsy,” the girl said as she continued clicking. “I’m with the yearbook staff. Oooh, hold that pose.” Betsy complied, even smiling for the camera.

Throughout that day, Betsy found herself struggling with a problem she had not had for weeks — a steadily building and nearly uncontrollable erotic arousal. Her jammed class schedule left her little time to relieve herself and some of her locations of choice were no longer available. The stairway to the clock tower was blocked for repairs, and her favorite secluded park bench was hard to get to because of the snow. She resolved to hold out until she was safely home, but fidgeted through the long day trying not to touch herself.

After her final class, Betsy walked toward home feeling utterly exhilarated. It was as if the pent-up sensual energy that nearly made her masturbate in class has diffused throughout her body, evenly dispersed and radiating out of her through every pore, strand of hair and bodily orifice. It was like the time she’d accidentally eaten two marijuana brownies,but this time it was all natural. She felt confident and BEAUTIFUL and overflowing with joy.

“And I’m NAKED!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms in the air and twirling in a circle to the delight of all who saw her. Snow was still coming down in giant wet flakes that melted on her hot skin, and in that moment she never wanted to wear clothing again. When she passed a group of students making a snowman she joined in to help them. Her hands got red and cold, but the rest of her was steaming like a horse as she cradled a basketball-sized snowball against her chest and lifted it to balance on top of the emerging snowman’s torso.

That’s when she saw the Channel 4 TV news truck cruising through campus. Their competitor, Channel 5, had gotten her for the morning news and probably showed it again at noon, and now Channel 4 wanted their own Betsy Boost in ratings. Most days she would have avoided them, but at this moment she felt flattered to know she was so popular — that so many people enjoyed seeing her naked. She initiated a snowball fight so she could be squealing photogenically in play as the van drove up. As the cameraman approached she fell to the ground to make a snow angel, her golden brown skin glowing red and wet with melting snow. It was a glorious excuse to spread her legs for the camera and she had the urge to masturbate for the viewers too, but even in her present state she knew that would be inappropriate for broadcast TV.

The silly TV reporter wanted to ask her about the cold again. Couldn’t they think of anything else. Ignoring the questions, she jumped up and ran, giggling, towards home, the van following her with the cameraman leaning out the window. When she came to a huge evergreen tree whose boughs were laden with heavy snow, she stood under the lowest branch and gave it a shake, sending globs of wet snow raining down on her. Then she was off again across the street and now off campus, the van following her down the little brick streets of her neighborhood to her beloved blue house with the white picket fence. She blew the cameraman a kiss and bounded up the steps to the porch and burst in the front door. Kicking off her tennis shoes and tossing her little backpack on the table, Betsy threw herself on the bed and spent the next half hour having three epic orgasms.

Exhausted, she fell asleep and woke an hour later transformed back to her old self. She now regretted how she’d behaved, but she knew Kate would want to see it, so she made sure to have the TV on Channel 4 as she got dinner started. However, her phone buzzed with a text message from Kate saying she’d be late. It was almost time for the news so Betsy set it to record so Kate could watch it later. As always, they saved the bit on her for the end of the broadcast and teased it at every station break. I should get paid for this, Betsy grumbled as she turned the burners on low to keep dinner warm.

When her segment came on, Betsy sat and watched it, wondering who that crazy-happy girl was who looked so much like her. Having drained from her body every ounce of erotic feeling, Betsy just felt ridiculous, and embarrassed knowing that people all around the Kingsley area were watching her cavort naked on TV. At least they’d edited the video not to show her spread-eagled pose while making that stupid snow angel. How could she humiliate herself like this day after day? Had she no shame? And yet even when she felt at her lowest, Betsy knew that the words “humiliation” and “shame” weren’t quite right. She was deeply embarrassed, but not humiliated because that word assumed that those who saw her were offended or disapproving, but amazingly no one was. There was no actual “shame” in it somehow. People loved her this way. She wondered what her life would be like a few months from now when she was not a public nudist anymore. Would people still like her? She hoped they would, but she didn’t need to be so popular. People watched her all the time; she just wanted to blend in with the crowd. But that girl on the tape . . . she was so happy being naked. Betsy tried to remember the feeling, but there was only a shadow of it left. Did she want it back?

Kate came home late and irritated. She watched the video while she ate dinner, laughing a little, but afterwards she opened her laptop again and they did not make love that night. In the early weeks of their relationship not a single day had gone by when they did not make love. Kate was not always in the mood to have an orgasm of her own, but she loved giving them to Betsy, and because Betsy had them so easily she usually had several. Now, sometimes two or three nights in a row would go by in which Kate was preoccupied with work and barely seemed to notice Betsy.

This lack of evening orgasms left Betsy prone to arousal in the middle of the day. She half-hoped to have that experience again, but even when she was fidgety she remained aware of the absurdity of her situation. She was the only person naked. She was naked all the time. It was winter. This was insane. No, she didn’t want that crazy feeling back — not if it meant staying naked. She wanted to wear clothes and she was determined to be doing so by Solstice. She was going to be a normal person again.

As the days went on, Betsy stoically maintained her resolutions: She said nothing to Kate about the cold, and she kept her distance from Dean and Michelle to let them have whatever relationship they were going to have. She socialized instead with Lu Chen, Taylor and Aaron, all friends from one of her classes. Sometimes she went to  a coffeehouse with them after their final class of the day. She was trying to be normal, or as normal as a naked girl can be.

On the first day of November, it was raining. Betsy had, of course, walked through the rain before, but on this day it was freezing rain. The morning radio warned of accidents on the roads and showed pictures of icicles hanging from street signs. Betsy hoped Kate would say something about it finally being cold enough, but she didn’t and Betsy ignored it also as they both got ready for the day. As she so often was these days, Kate seemed preoccupied with work and in a rush as she kissed Betsy goodbye, grabbing the green umbrella from the hook by the door on her way out to the garage.

The green umbrella had originally been Betsy’s, but Kate had left her own at work and did not bother to ask if Betsy wanted hers. Throughout the late summer and early fall there had been several rainy days during which Betsy had left her umbrella at home, choosing instead to let her body get wet. That made sense for a warm summer rain, but now it was a freezing November rain. Kate was driving and parked in a garage. She would barely have need for an umbrella but had left Betsy with no option but to walk through the rain without one. Knowing what she would have to endure this day, Betsy packed up her necessary things in her plastic Ariel backpack and stuffed up her hair under one of her ball caps. She put on her tennis shoes, slung the backpack over one shoulder and stepped outside.

The rain was coming down hard and Betsy could feel the spray even under the roof of the porch as she locked the front door. She took a deep breath, adjusted her ball cap and stepped off the porch into the freezing rain.

It was tough, but Betsy was resolved as she kept her head down and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other as freezing rain pelted her naked body. She made it to her first class early and had time to go to the ladies’ room to dry off with paper towels, shivering uncontrollably as she did so. Fortunately, this was one of the buildings where the steam heat was always too strong and so she warmed up quickly during the class. But then she had to plunge into the freezing rain again to go to her next class. It was farther away, which meant more exposure, and she didn’t arrive in time to go to the bathroom so she had to air dry during class in a building that was not well-heated. She shivered throughout the class as cold trickles ran down her body.

Betsy’s classmates had already been amazed for weeks at her ability to withstand the cold, and now they could only shake their heads in wonder. “Are you sure this is healthy,” Lu Chen asked with concern as they were leaving the classroom. “What if you catch pneumonia?”

“I’m okay, Lu Chen,” Betsy insisted, doing her best to laugh it off. “It’s not even that cold or else it would be snowing instead of raining.”

“But it’s FREEZING rain,” Lu Chen emphasized. “You’re going to have icicles hanging from your nipples!”

“My nipples and I will be fine,” Betsy said, waving goodbye and pushing through the exit and back out into the rain. She nearly fell because the sidewalk was covered with a sheet of ice. Icicles were hanging from street signs and tree branches. Betsy began to wonder if Lu Chen was right and kept glancing down at her reddened, pointy nipples half expecting them to have icicles hanging from them.

The rain did not let up all day, but as she headed home she took strength from the thought that perhaps today would be the day that Kate suggested it was time for a coat. Betsy imagined herself putting up a little argument — she didn’t want to seem too quick to agree. When she was finally home, Betsy decided she had just enough time for a steamy hot shower before starting dinner. She unloaded the contents of her Ariel backpack to make sure everything was still dry and noticed she had a message on her phone from Kate.

“Don’t make dinner, babe,” Kate’s voice said over a bad cellphone connection. “We’re going out to celebrate! Meet us at O’_____’s on Fourth Street. We’re headed there now.” Betsy listened to the message four times, but could not make out the name. It sounded like “O’David,” but she could find nothing on her phone by that name. She tried calling Kate back but only got her voicemail.

Fourth Street was Avery’s main drag and had along it all manner of restaurants and bars. Betsy remembered a prominent sign for “O Henry’s” near campus, though she’d never been to it. That must be where Kate was, Betsy reasoned. The message had been sent half an hour earlier and Kate had said “we’re headed there now,” so she was probably already there and couldn’t hear her phone. No time for that hot shower, Betsy lamented and got herself ready to go back out in the rain. O’Henry’s was only a few blocks away and Betsy had been trudging through the rain all day, so she figured she could do a little more — and this would show Kate what Betsy was enduring without a coat. What were they celebrating, she wondered.

Betsy didn’t want to lug her backpack to the restaurant, and she really wouldn’t need the things she normally carried to class — her tablet, phone and keys. It would be easier to leave all of these behind because she really wouldn’t need them. Betsy stepped out the front door, still wearing only her sodden shoes and ball cap, and closed the door until it latched. She was locked out naked and would have to make her way through the icy rain to find Kate.

Fourth Street was only three blocks away and she made it there quickly, but then wasn’t sure whether to go left or right. She peered in both directions until she spotted the “O’Henry’s” sign several blocks away. The wind had kicked up and icy raindrops stung her bare skin as Betsy tilted her head down and plunged through the storm, her feet sliding on the icy sidewalk. When she finally reached “O Henry’s”, it was closed. The hours posted on the glass door said it served breakfast and lunch, closing every day by 2:30 p.m.

Crap, Betsy thought. Now she wished she’d carried her backpack so she’d have her phone to search for other restaurants with an “O” name. She felt sure she had gone in the right direction. Nearly all of the bars and restaurants were on this end of the street. She only needed to keep going until she found another one starting with “O.”

Betsy plunged out into the rain and wind again. Although the street was jammed with cars, their windshield wipers slapping fast against the rain, Betsy had the sidewalk nearly to herself. A few pedestrians fought to keep their umbrellas from turning inside-out, and if they noticed her at all they stared in amazement as Betsy pushed her way through the storm with nothing at all to protect her.

After a few blocks of this, Betsy was becoming numb — not just her body, but her mind. She felt as if her consciousness was floating separately beside her struggling body, and she seemed to know dispassionately that her body could not endure this indefinitely. She imagined herself laying down on the sidewalk and going to sleep until the storm passed. Now she was at a busy intersection and had to stop and wait for the light as cars streamed past her, and across the street she saw the sign — “Eau de Vie.” That was it! “O’David” was “Eau de Vie”!

When the light finally changed, Betsy strode across the street with new resolve. As she approached the restaurant, she saw Kate and Alice through a window, and more importantly they saw her. With what little energy she possessed, Betsy pushed her way inside as Kate, Alice and several other women from P&S rushed to greet her.

“Goodness, Betsy, you are positively blue!” Alice exclaimed, leading her back to their table. “We must get you dried and warmed up! You’ll catch your death in this weather!”

Betsy only had eyes for Kate and rejected the cloth napkins offered to her. “I’m f-f-fine,” she insisted. “I p-p-prefer to let m-m-myself air-d-d-dry.”

“But you must be freezing,” declared one of the other women. Betsy had met her before, but had forgotten her name. Erin. Yes, her name was Erin.”

“I’m f-f-fine, Erin,” Betsy said, still shivering involuntarily. Kate had a vodka tonic in front of her and Betsy took a substantial gulp of it.

“This is going too far,” Erin said to Kate. “You can’t expect her to keep doing this.”

“Erin is right,” another woman said to Kate. “This is absurd. The poor girl is going to end up with pneumonia.” Betsy could see Kate’s expression hardening as all of her co-workers chastised her for allowing Betsy to take such risks. They were interrupted by the waiter, coming to take their dinner orders. Betsy ordered soup to warm her up, and Kate clenched her teeth and ordered a rare steak. Betsy knew she needed to say something as soon as possible.

“I don’t know why you’re c-complaining to K-Kate,” she said as soon as the waiter left their table. “It’s my d-decision to live n-naked, and p-poor Kate has just been p-putting up with me. She was t-talking about getting me a coat weeks ago. I said I didn’t want one, but . . . I have to admit that today has been . . . difficult.”

Kate quickly recovered her composure as Betsy made her little speech, and then said, “Sweetheart, I really think it’s time you gave in. We discussed this, and you agreed that you wouldn’t be able to make it through the entire winter completely naked. Will you let me buy you a coat tonight, Betsy?”

This was perfect — exactly what Betsy had been hoping for, and in front of witnesses. She frowned to keep from smiling, looking down in what she hoped was an expression of disappointment. “I guess you’re right,” she whispered as a real tear (of joy and relief) trickled down her cheek.

The other women offered a chorus of support — praising Betsy for her amazing achievement while urging her to listen to Kate’s wise advice for the sake of her health. Betsy was too choked up to reply. She was only pretending to be sad, yet somehow she actually felt disappointment in having given up.

Trying to shake it off, she managed to ask, “so what are we celebrating?”

“Your Kate is quite the rising star at P&S,” Alice said. “We could tell right away that the position we hired her into was an insufficient challenge, and so today it was announced that she has been elevated to a higher position — and with that a substantial raise in salary I might add.”

“Which is why I’m picking up the tab tonight,” Kate crowed, lifting her nearly empty glass.

“That’s wonderful!” Betsy exclaimed.

Kate launched into a long and somewhat tedious description of her new role. Betsy was not entirely following it, but began to relax. Her skin was drying, except under her bottom and various trickles that still worked their way down her body as the remaining ice in her hair melted. By the time the food came, Betsy felt comfortable again and the hot soup she had ordered made her toasty warm inside — too warm. She leaned back in her chair and ran her fingers through her wet hair, undoing her tangled braid and shaking more water down on her skin. This took some time, during which her breasts were on their best display for all eyes in the restaurant.

Betsy was starting to feel very good about her situation. Finally she was making progress towards being able to wear clothing again, and the knowledge of that allowed her to enjoy the sensuousness of being naked in front of Kate’s friends. She imagined a future in which she was no longer a registered nudist, but would go naked at home in front of Kate’s friends from work. She would be glad to do that much, and in fact she realized she didn’t want to entirely go back to her old life. She could be like Michelle, wearing clothing in public and then slipping it off like a coat when socializing with Kate’s work friends at their homes. That was something she could never have imagined herself enjoying a few months ago, but it was nothing compared to what she had been doing.

What about among her own friends from school? Perhaps she would with them too, Betsy pondered. After all, everyone had seen her naked for all of this time. Betsy’s reverie was interrupted when she heard Erin, speaking to Kate, say “when you go to New Westbrook.”

“New Westbrook?” Betsy asked, her hands still in her wet hair, but no longer moving.

“Just a quick business trip,” Kate said. “I need to fly out to the West Coast for a couple of weeks to get things reorganized out there.”

“Weeks??”

“Yes, babe,” Kate said, patting Betsy on the hand. “I won’t be gone long. I’d take you with me, but you have your classes and, well, you wouldn’t be able to go naked out there, so I would never ask you to make that sacrifice.”

The conversation went on, mostly about work, and Betsy remained quiet. Kate’s promotion was good news, but the idea of her going to New Westbrook for ‘weeks’ was unsettling. When the waiter brought the check, Kate snatched it and paid for everyone. “Now,” Kate said, “the next order of business is buying you a coat!”

Betsy’s mind was churning with worry. New Westbrook was where Kate wanted to be — she’d said so in the heat of anger. “I could have been in New Westbrook by now,” she remembered Kate telling her bitterly during one of their arguments, “but I came to second-rate Kingsley for YOU.” And now Kate was going to New Westbrook for weeks, and leaving Betsy behind. And was it a coincidence that only NOW was Kate suddenly willing to let her have a coat? Maybe Kate didn’t care anymore what Betsy wore because Kate was leaving her behind and starting a new life without her in New Westbrook!

These dark thoughts consumed her as they left the restaurant. She barely noticed that the rain had stopped as they walked to Kate’s car. She tried to listen as Kate recounted the story of how she was told about her promotion. Betsy heard herself say, “it’s wonderful,” and “you deserved it,” but she was not thinking those things, and watched numbly as Kate drove them to the mall and parked in front of McAlister’s department store. Somehow they were inside the store and Kate was leading her through the women’s coat department. A saleswoman approached and spoke to Betsy by name.

“Miss Andrews!” she exclaimed. “We were hoping the Avery Nudist would turn to McAlister’s when it was time to buy a coat. How exciting!”

Betsy was in a daze as the saleswoman — whose nametag said “Mirriam” — began showing them rack after rack of coats more fabulous than Betsy had dared dream for . . . until this moment. Now that it was finally happening, something was wrong. It was a trap! She was being tricked! When Mirriam pulled a long fur coat off its hanger and held it out for Betsy to slip on, Betsy recoiled.

“No!” she cried. “It’s too much!”

“Price is no object,” Kate declared. “Whatever you want is yours.”

“I mean it’s too much . . . clothing,” Betsy panted. “I can’t . . . I can’t put that on.” A few hours ago, she would have been thrilled with this coat, but now it seemed sinister.

“Maybe something lighter at first,” Kate suggested. “How about starting with this little jacket?” She held out a waist-length suede jacket that would not even cover her butt, but Betsy refused to try it on — convinced that somehow doing so would trigger the end of their relationship.

“No, no,” she insisted, backing away. “I don’t want any of them.”

Mirriam looked alarmed and faded into the background as Kate took Betsy aside and held her in her arms. “Betsy, sweetheart,” Kate said. “We need to get you something to keep you warm.”

Betsy pulled herself away and ran a few steps to a display of winter scarves and hats. “I just want these,” she insisted, “but not a coat. I can’t wear a coat.”

Kate sighed. “I don’t want to upset you, Betsy, and I can see you’re not ready for this. Okay, let’s buy some of these for starters.” The display included rainbow-striped scarves, hats, mittens and leg warmers.

“We have some lovely boots,” Mirriam timidly interjected, indicating a neighboring display. Betsy consented to try on knee-high boots, and soon the purchase was made, though Betsy refused to put on the entire ensemble and only wore the boots as they exited the store.

That night in bed, they talked more about the trip and Betsy felt a little more secure, and too embarrassed to admit to Kate what she had feared. “You’ll be back by the start of Solstice Season, won’t you?” she managed to ask.

“Of course,” Kate said, “and I’m looking forward to finally meeting your family. You can wear your new outfit. Now, we’d better get some sleep. I can’t very well show up late the day after my big promotion, can I?”

Kate was soon asleep while Betsy stared at the ceiling trying to remember her plan to be wearing clothes by the time they visited her family. She knew she had overreacted and should have accepted the coat. Kate was just going on a business trip and then she would be home. One was not an omen of the outcome of the other. She could still continue her plan and go coat-shopping on her own, maybe before Kate left on her trip. That was the first step, and she could easily take it on her own now because Kate had tried to buy her a coat already. She didn’t know why she’d gotten all tangled up inside. It was stupid, and silly. She would just go get a coat before Kate left, and then before Solstice she would tell Kate she wanted to wear clothing again. That part might be harder with Kate out of town, though. Or maybe not . . . maybe each day when they talked on the phone Betsy could mention how cold it was. Maybe she could pretend she was coming down with the flu. She could even claim to be running a temperature and Kate wouldn’t be able to tell from a distance. That would be another lie, of course . . .

Betsy slept fitfully and woke with the same thoughts in her head. It was a grey and cold morning and Betsy considered wearing her new “outfit” to school, but could not bring herself to put any of it on. Instead, she wore her usual tennis shoes and ball cap. She was eager to talk to Michelle about what had happened and get her advice, but Michelle was not in class. Instead, Betsy received a text from Michelle asking her to come to the Art Building as soon as possible. She left class early (wishing she had the ability to do so inconspicuously), and ran to the Art Building where she found Michelle and Dean hurriedly packing suitcases into the back of a taxi.

“Oh Betsy!” Michelle exclaimed. “I’m so glad you got here in time. The most wonderful thing has happened. I’m going to Italy after all! One of the top winners of that contest had to drop out and I was the first alternate so I get to go! And Dean is going with me!”

“But . . . what about . . . your final exams?” Betsy stammered, though in her mind she was saying “what about me?”

“That’s all taken care of. I get to take my exams remotely, and Dean doesn’t have any because he’s doing an independent study this semester and can work on that anywhere.”

Dean shrugged as if in apology. “Free trip to Italy,” he said.

“And I’ll earn my Winter Session credits over there,” Michelle went on. “So–”

“You’ll be gone all Winter Session?”

“I’m sorry, Betsy,” Michelle said, tears in her eyes. “That’s the only bad thing about this. I’m going to miss you so much. I wish you could come with us.”

It all happened so fast. After a flurry of tearful friendship kisses from Michelle and an awkward hug with Dean, the taxi was pulling away, leaving Betsy alone in the Art Building plaza as the carillon bells signalled the time for transition.

Two days later, Betsy was driving Kate to the airport. Though she had intended to buy a coat before Kate left, Betsy had not been able to bring herself to do so. She wanted one more than anything, but could not shake the feeling that this was some kind of cosmic test, and that any retreat from nudity would somehow cost her Kate. It made no logical sense, she knew, and yet she could not make herself go into a store and try on coats. When she walked past shop windows showing coats in the window she quickened her pace as if passing a cemetery on spooky night.

And so the days had gone by, and now she was naked except for shoes as she pulled up at a parking meter in the short-term parking lanes next to the airport terminal. Kate had been absorbed in her phone for most of the drive, exchanging emails with Alice about the trip. Kate was wearing a business suit and a long coat because the temperature was well below freezing. Betsy shivered in the wind as Kate pulled her big suitcase from the back seat of the car and began pulling it on its wheels. With her free hand she put her arm around Betsy’s bare waist as they whooshed through the automated doors into the airport.

Betsy was too numb to notice the stares of travelers unaccustomed to seeing the Avery Nudist in the flesh. When they reached the security station, Kate kissed her and promised they would talk every evening and that the time would go by quickly. Betsy watched, powerless, as Kate went through security and then disappeared around the corner with a quick wave and a glance over her shoulder.

As she made her way back through the crowded terminal Betsy briefly found herself surrounded by a gaggle of squealing teenage girls wanting her autograph. Momentarily buoyed by their praise, Betsy manage to smile for a couple of group photos and then the girls scurried on to catch their own flight. When she reached the exit leading to the short-term parking area, Betsy pushed out the revolving door into the cold. People around her wore winter coats, their breath visible in white puffs. Betsy was oblivious to the cold as she walked naked and alone into the night.

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The writings of Molly McMann